The women of Theta Beta chapter of AOII brought early and well-received Christmas joy to many underprivileged children Wednesday night, December 3, at its annual Holiday for The Kids held in the University Union.
Each year, Theta Beta partners with an inner-city Baltimore school to provide the Christmas party and gifts for nominated children who meet a strict criteria of attitudinal and behavioral goals. It is an educational and enriching opportunity for all concerned. The kids who earn the right to participate are rewarded with a great dinner and stacks of practical and fun gifts in a night of friendship, music, and celebration in a safe and loving environment.
I was a first-time attendee at this year’s event. The sisters of AOII had just named me their Faculty Advisor, so I couldn’t wait to see them in action at this their major annual philanthropic event.
When I entered the huge conference room, happy kids were everywhere playing with new toys and trying on warm new coats and other clothing. The AOII sisters were resplendent in their black shirts with rich cardinal-colored “AOII” insignia. The room was warm with loving, caring attention to kids who otherwise might not have had any joy this Christmas.
“This is the happiest day of the year for us,” I was told repeatedly by AOII sisters. “We love doing this. We love working with the kids and seeing their happiness.”
To purchase the most appropriate and size-correct presents, AOIIs obtain a Christmas Wish List from each child who will attend. Chapter members agree to kick in $20 each, but from conversations with many of the sisters and from the volume, variety, and quality of the gifts, AOII sisters spent much more than $20. In addition to each member’s personal generosity, their parents frequently kick in more money for this worthy cause. It is all for some special kids who otherwise would have to do without.
Toward the end of the night, a kids choir serenaded AOII with uplifting seasonal songs. It was a moving experience, touching the hearts of all in attendance. Joy in kids’ faces at Christmas is about as good as it gets.
Times have definitely changed. I was a fraternity member in undergraduate school. And while my SAE chapter did participate in community service projects, it was nowhere near the scope of what I see fraternities and sororities doing now in not only community service but philanthropy.
AOII is a good example of philanthropy. It supports the Arthritis Foundation and its Arthritis Research Fund; the Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Fund for sisters’ continued education; The Ruby Fund, which helps sisters in times of financial need and is called the “Heart of AOII”; and the Endowment Fund to support educational programming.
It’s an honor for me to be asked to serve as Faculty Advisor to such a fine group of people. From their spirit of service and desire to make a positive contribution to the world around them, these AOIIs clearly illustrate that there is so much more to the Greek experience than social life. These women exceed the expectation.